My political philosophy group has been discussing A New Birth of Freedom, by Harry V. Jaffa, and I am now in my second reading. This is a masterful analysis of American political philosophy as defined by the Founders from its roots in the classical and Judeo-Christian traditions and as refined (or “re-defined” as some would say) by Lincoln in the re-founding years leading up to the Civil War. Jaffa is a natural right enthusiast out of the Leo Strauss school and his debates with strict constitutional constructionists like Robert Bork and William Rehnquist are legendary. The issues he confronts and the ideological conflicts he illuminates are critical to our understanding of the exceptional nature of the American idea and are as current as today’s conflicts, both domestic and foreign. It is not a light read, but a rewarding one.
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